By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Alfred Henry Mitchell has died.
We knew him as Buddy. He was a friend, a fighter, and a public servant, who will be greatly missed for a multitude of reasons.
The scriptures teach us that there is a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die. Between birth and death, every person has a choice of what steps they will take and what path to follow. For Buddy, the road he traveled was one of service.
Service to his State, service to his family, service to his school and to his friends. What more can be asked of a man, than to give his life in service to others?
His success in State government was in many ways fueled by his wealth of knowledge about the State itself. He had a deep understanding of its history and what made Alabamians a special breed; and sometimes a breed apart.
His tenure in the Executive, and Legislative Branches of the State is well known, as is his time representing Auburn University before State government. But, it was the thousands of things he did, unseen by the public eye, that are, in many ways, the most enduring.
Generosity in politics is a rare commodity, but one that Buddy exhibited in abundance. Giving without seeking a reward was a gift that marked so many of his actions, that it is impossible to list them all. But, those who were the beneficiaries of that goodness will remember his kindness forever.
He was also an imp, in the best sense of the word, with an over-sized glee, a smile as broad as a canyon, and a dry and beguiling wit, that could sometimes leave the listener just a little puzzled for a second.
Buddy was also an honest man, another rarity in the often corrupt world of politics. So, it was when scandal broke out, he could rise above the rumors of the hate mongers, and hold his head high without shame.
At a time when most men are seeking the quiet life, Buddy, began raising his three grandchildern. Getting them up and off to school, driving them to football practice, and indoctrinating them into the ways of a true Auburn fan. This was not an easy job, but a necessary one, and Buddy rose to the challenge.
And, so it was, that he also continued to labor tirelessly to rid the State of it corrupting influences.
Here, I will take, what politicos call, a point of personal privilege.
I first came to know, really know Buddy when he came to my home to tell me about how he had helped Mike Hubbard rig a bidding process at Auburn University, upon instructions from someone in power at the University.
This revelation placed Buddy squarely in the line of fire, not only from Hubbard, but from Auburn hierarchy….even law enforcement.
At the end of our meeting I asked him why he had come forward after so many years? His answer was, he wanted his grandchildren to know that he had tried to correct a wrong, and to expose the on-going corruption.
Even though it caused him personal anxiety and loss, he felt the he had to reveal the truth.
This was also the case when he went before the people of Alabama and proclaimed, “You can’t trust Mike Hubbard.” He didn’t want to make this public declaration, but he was compelled by duty, honor, and service.
The scripture tell us there is “A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak,” Buddy spoke out while others hid in silence.
Wednesday, December 3, 2014, the State of Alabama lost a true patriot, and those of us who knew and loved Buddy, we lost a dear friend.
The psalmist wrote, there is “A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”
Having run his race and finished his course, we pray that our friend, Buddy, is now at peace.